Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Monday decided to hike bus and minibus fares in the state by Re one over existing stages of fares in view of hike in diesel prices and cost of spare parts.
"The minimum fare for buses will be Rs six and for minibuses Rs seven and will increase by Re one over existing fares in every stage excepting beyond 16 km," senior state minister Partha Chatterjee said after a meeting held by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with bus and minibus operators here.
As such, passengers would have to pay Rs six for travelling four kilometres in the first stage for buses and one rupee more on existing fares in successive stages.
For minibuses, the hiked fare would be Rs seven for the first two kilometres and one rupee more every subsequent stage.
"However, in all stages beyond 16 km, the hike is likely to be Re two for both bus and minibus," the department sources said.
The new fares would be effective as soon as a notification for the hike is issued by the Transport Department and a new fare structure is ready.
"The Chief Minister has also ordered setting up of a task force to suggest future fare revision on the basis of change in fuel and spare parts," Chatterjee, the state Higher Education Minister and member of the GoM on Transport, told reporters.
The committee would start functioning from mid-April, 2015, he said.
The minister also expressed hope that the operators would ensure proper passenger comfort.
Bus and minibus operators have been demanding a fare revision for long in view of an increase of diesel prices by around Rs 13 since the last fare hike in September last year, according to Joint Council of Bus Syndicates president Sadhan Das.
The operators had called a three-day strike from August 20, but had decided to defer it following a request from the government in view of the Chief Minister being in Singapore during that time.
The operators, however, described this Re one hike as "inadequate" since diesel prices were hiked by 23 times in past two years.
"We were on ventilator, now shifted to hospital bed. If the state government fails to give proper attention to our plights, state`s public transport will be thrown out of gear," Bengal Bus Syndicate Secretary Dipak Sarkar said.
General Secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate Sadhan Das said, "The hike should have been at least Rs two, even as our demand of minimum fare was minimum Re eight.
Secretary of the minibus operators` coordination committee Abasesh Dan demanded rationalisation of various states in fare chart before finalising it.
No decision has, however, been taken over any hike on taxi fares.
Cabbies had kept their vehicles off the roads for four days this month demanding a fare hike.